MSU loses to LSU, still makes SEC Tournament
The best news the Mississippi State softball seniors received on Sunday came from Columbia, S.C.
View more articles in:
When Florida defeated South Carolina 5-0 earlier in the day, that meant that the Bulldogs had qualified for the Southeastern Conference Tournament on May 12-14 in Oxford.
It also means that the MSU careers for seniors Ali Bainbridge, Courtney Nesbit and Ackerman native Chelsea Raines have been extended for at least another week.
Despite a 3-1 loss to LSU in the final home game of the season, Raines had a reason to be encouraged.
"It's a good thing we are making the SEC Tournament because it gives us more time to get better, do better things and hopefully get revenge on some of these teams that's beaten us," Raines said. "I know we'll see LSU, Alabama and Florida there. We definitely owe Alabama and Florida.
"We're a much better team now than what we used to be so I think we'll give them a run for their money this time. We trust each other on the field a lot more too."
The Bulldogs were swept by the Tigers in the three-game to see their record slip to 23-29 overall and 9-16 in the SEC.
Even though MSU won't have a winning season, head softball coach Jay Miller said reaching the SEC Tournament is important to the team.
"What we want is an opportunity to redeem ourselves at the end of the year," Miller said. "We've had some tough losses along the way, especially those first two weekends when we were struggling on defense. Once we settled in on defense, we've been playing a lot better.
"Stephanie (Becker) has done a great job on the mound and has given us an opportunity to win games. Hopefully, we can build on that, enjoy it and we've got nothing to lose now. It's just a matter of going, having fun, play hard and see what happens."
The final game of the series at the MSU Softball Field turned into quite a pitching matchup between Becker and LSU's Brittany Mack.
The only blemish with Becker's outing through six innings was a two-run home run given up to Anissa Young of the Tigers in the first inning.
"I don't know if it was nerves or just a couple of fat pitches early at the wrong time, but I thought she did a good job after that," Miller said. "She settled down and gave us an opportunity to win."
Becker ended up going the distance for the Bulldogs, giving up all three runs on five hits with two strikeouts and four walks.
The MSU offense just couldn't get anything going against Mack, who all went all seven innings in the circle and recorded 10 strikeouts.
Kaili Smith, Sam Lenahan and Jessica Cooley had one single each for the Bulldogs off Mack and Raines drove in the only run for MSU with a seventh-inning ground out.
"We were making some adjustments at the plate the last couple of innings, but it was just a matter of too little too late," Miller said. "Give credit to Mack because she threw a great ballgame out there and we had a tough time picking up the ball."
As tough as the weekend was for the Bulldogs, they look forward to finishing the season.
Miller gave credit to the four seniors for their contributions to the program, especially Raines.
"She's someone we really didn't recruit," Raines said. "She just sort of showed up at practice last year and wanted to try out. She showed us some good things there and was a back-up catcher for us last year. We thought she was going to be (the backup catcher) this year, then she was pressed into service at third base. She had some ups and downs out there, but overall she's a fighter and has come a long way in the past year. She's done some great things both offensively and defensively."